William Patrick Hitler, the half nephew of murderous Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, served with the U.S. Navy during World War II after receiving special permission to fight from then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration.
Born in Liverpool, England, in 1911, William was the son of Alois Hitler Jr. and Bridget Dowling. He was raised in England before moving to Germany in the 1929 to try and capitalize on his uncle’s growing power.
William hoped that his connection to Adolf Hitler would help him secure a good job in Germany, but he quickly became disillusioned with his uncle’s regime. In 1939, William fled Germany and moved to the United States.
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When the United States entered World War II in 1941, William was eager to join the U.S. military. Despite his family connections to one of America’s enemies, William was able to enlist in the U.S. Navy and served as a hospital corpsman – but only after writing a letter to then-President Roosevelt. The president passed William’s request to then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who ultimately approved William’s enlistment.
In his letter to Roosevelt, William referred to himself as “the nephew and only descendant of the ill-faced Chancellor and Leader of Germany,” according to Warfare History Network. William also spoke highly of the United States and Allied forces, praising their “masterFul leadership.”
William was discharged from the Navy in 1947 and moved to New York City, where he changed his last name to Stuart-Houston. He married that same year and eventually had four sons. He later died in 1987 at the age of 76.